After their last hit Frozen in 2014, Disney has given us another big surprise. The first cooperation with Marvel is a story about heroes, but features perhaps the cutest and most huggable hero to date.
This is a heart-warming story about a 14-year-old boy Hiro Hamada, whose elder brother, Tadashi Hamada invents a health care robot called Baymax. Unfortunately, Tadashi dies in an accident, putting his inexperienced younger brother to the test. Luckily, his friends and Baymax help Hiro to recover from the loss and work through his grief by solving the mystery of classic whodunnit.
The highlight in this movie, without doubt, is Baymax. He is a big, white, inflatable AI robot, which resembles the Michelin guy without the distinctive rings. Baymax’s squishy design further underlines his programming; helping those in need of medical care as he is equipped with almost every medical procedure.
The story is asset in the highly mixed town of San Fransokyo, a clear bid to tap into the booming lucrative Japanese animation market. To take this vision of blended society step further, the buildings and streets in ‘ San Fransokyo’ mirror the curved architectures in the traditional Tokyo style. But, they still keep the essence of typical San Franciscan rolling hills and old-fashioned trams.
Additionally, their names are more like a mixture of East and West. For example, the protagonist’s name, Hiro, is coincidentally related to the word ‘hero’ and his friends, Wasabi and Gogo, emphasize the Japanese link. The invention of combining these two cities is weird but an interesting concept to join two cities from opposite ends of the world.
The bird-eye-view of the whole city appears futuristic, with a promise of advanced household technology at the tip of our fingers. It brings us a vision of what AI would look like in the near future: its capabilities as well as its consequences.
The voice of the robot is lovely and comforting. It is almost human, but the design of the robot is simple; with two big black eyes set in an oval head, short legs and a bulging pot-belly. However, Hiro undermines his purpose and uses his robotic genius for his own means. He fits Baymax with armour and inserts a fighting chip programmed with Karate to avenge his brother’s death.
It is more accepted for children to love the character as a soft care companion rather than the obliterating red-eyed machine.
AI is a conversional issue, and the movie shows to what extent technology can benefit the human race. If they are too intelligent, humans will be under threat of annihilation and yet we depend on it in this modern age. There is a fine line between being in control of your creation and your creation ruling you. Baymax is the perfect model of any future AI robots.
This movie is about the bond between family, so well depicted in other Disneys, including Brother Bear and Frozen, where the loss of their parents brings them closer together. Audiences everywhere were hooked on this simple yet simply fantastic film tying friendship and family with enough heroics to do Marvel justice.